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Where silence speaks-insights from Third World NGOs

Kamalika Chakraborty (Strategic Management, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, India)
Biswatosh Saha (Strategic Management, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, India)
Nimruji Jammulamadaka (Behavioural Sciences, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, India)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 6 March 2017




The purpose of this paper is to unpack the conflation between the silence and purported passivity of the Third World NGOs (TNGOs). Explaining the invisibility of their voices in the critical and post-development perspectives, it locates the inquiry in the context of the action of these TNGOs.


The paper follows the phronetic research approach, which involves a case study of a locally developed Indian NGO. It uses phronetic inquiry along with Ashis Nandy’s notion of “silent coping” as the conceptual framework. To explain the purported passivity of TNGOs in the texts under global circulation, the paper uses Walter Mignolo’s discussion on “texts in circulation”.


The uncertain nature of action – that it begets further action possibilities; precludes the prospect of visualizing such action spaces in the context of their generation. This emergent nature of local action spaces makes it difficult to capture them within the dominating global discursive structures, thereby creating local spaces of agency for the TNGO actors. Selective appropriation of artefacts and texts from the global circulation and the creation of alternate stake structures at the local level support the realization of such action spaces. Further, such local artefacts and texts do not travel into texts circulating globally, thereby rendering the TNGOs invisible and silent in the reading of global texts and leading to the TNGOs being framed as passive.


This paper locates the voices and acts of the TNGOs and highlights the mechanisms that enable them to silently cope with structures of discursive domination, thereby contributing to post-development studies and post-colonial organizational analysis.



Chakraborty, K., Saha, B. and Jammulamadaka, N. (2017), "Where silence speaks-insights from Third World NGOs", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 38-53.



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